Cape Town and the Western Cape are experiencing their best ever tourist season, with close to 100 % occupancies reported for November. October occupancies of hotels and guest houses reached record levels as well. Most accommodation establishments in the area are fully booked for the Christmas and New Year period, and it may be impossible for many visitors to Cape Town to still find accommodation for late December and early January.
Forward bookings for January, February and March indicate that these will also be record tourism months.
The winter season in Cape Town was better than in many years, and a clear trend to longer stays in the city is evident, according to research commissioned by Cape Metropolitan Tourism. A growing proportion of domestic tourists visited Cape Town from Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. The domestic visitors were more likely to stay with friends and relatives, and this percentage grew to 45 %, followed by hotels. Both of these accommodation types are on an upward trend over winter. Accommodation at B & B's and Guest Houses appears to have dropped over the past winter. Domestic tourists are also far less likely to stay in the City Bowl and Atlantic Seaboard during winter, to the benefit of the South Peninsula and Tygerberg regions in Cape Town.
International tourists too were much more likely to live in a hotel in the last winter, but predominantly stayed in the City Bowl and Atlantic Seaboard. The winter tourists were far more likely to be from the United Kingdom, at the expense of Germany. The average stay in Cape Town by international visitors during winter is 9 days, with a growing proportion of the overall holiday time being spent in Cape Town. The average expenditure for the holiday in South Africa rose sharply to R 25 620, up by just under 50 % on the year before.
Cape Town has been showered with media accolades of late, and the latest feather in its cap is being selected as one of the 50 "Places to See Before You Die" by more than 20 000 BBC viewers. Cape Town was ranked fifth overall, and ahead of major tourist cities such as Paris, Sydney, New York, Rome and Rio de Janiero. Tourism sites, including the Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef, Disneyland in Florida and New Zealand's South Island, ranked ahead of Cape Town. In addition, the city was voted by Conde Nast Traveler as the world's best value for money city, the third favourite overseas city for UK travellers by the London Observer, the best city in Africa by Travel & Leisure magazine, and selected as one of the top eight cultural centres of the world by Newsweek.
The region has grown its attractiveness, despite the recent strengthening Rand exchange rate and price increases. Prices of restaurant meals and accommodation rates are still seen to be affordable relative to those in Germany and the United Kingdom.
The number of German tourists to South Africa appears to have dropped back, with fewer tourists from Germany visiting the region in October and November, the most popular period for German visitors. Germans are postponing or curtailing their expenditure on travel, big ticket items and even basic consumer goods, as a result of the price increases they have experienced since the introduction of the Euro. They are also facing tax increases and many are out of pocket due to the flood damage earlier this year.
In the light of the popularity of Cape Town, a number of airlines have increased their flights to South Africa. Lufthansa has added five flights between Munich and Johannesburg, British Airways has added three extra flights between London and Cape Town, a new Belgian airline Sobelair has started operating between Brussels and Johannesburg, Virgin Atlantic has added three flights, Singapore Airlines is adding another flight, KLM has added one additional flight a week, and LTU is adding direct flights between Cape Town and Duesseldorf. Some airlines are seeing a flattening of the seasonality in Cape Town, and are considering retaining their additional flights during winter as well, according to the Weekend Argus.